In March 1972, the Vietnamese launched a three-pronged invasion of the South. One NVA force swept south across the DMZ, its goal apparently the conquest of the northern provinces and the seizure of Hue. A second NVA force drove from Laos into the Central Highlands, and a third effort involved a drive from Cambodia into provinces northwest of Saigon.
Fierce fighting ensued on all three fronts, with NVA success the greatest in the northern provinces. Fighting continued until June, when the North Vietnamese began withdrawing from some of their advanced positions, still holding considerable amounts of South Vietnamese territory in the northern provinces.
On June 11, 1972, CPT Arnold Holm, pilot, PFC Wayne Bibbs, gunner, and SP4 Robin Yeakley, observer, were aboard an OH-6A observation helicopter flying from Camp Eagle to the Northern Provinces of South Vietnam on a visual reconnaissance mission. The function of their "Loach" chopper was searching out signs of the enemy around two landing zones (LZ's). The OH-6 joined with AH-1G Cobra gunships as "Pink Teams" to screen the deployment of air cavalry troops. On this day, Holm's aircraft was monitoring an ARVN team insertion.
During the mission, Holm reported that he saw enemy living quarters, bunkers, and numerous trails. On his second pass over a ridge, at about 25 feet altitude, the aircraft exploded and burned. It was reported that smoke and white phosphorous grenades began exploding before the aircraft crashed. After the aircraft impacted with the ground, it exploded again. Other aircraft in the area received heavy anti-aircraft fire. No one was seen to exit the downed helicopter, nor were emergency radio beepers detected.
Another OH-6A (tail #67-16275), crewed by 1LT James R. McQuade and SP4 James E. Hackett, tried to enter the area of the crashed OH-6A, but encountered heavy fire. McQuade's aircraft was hit, and again the onboard munitions exploded prior to ground impact. The aircraft continued to burn after impact and neither crewmen left the ship before or after the crash.
No ground search was made for survivors or remains of either aircraft because of hostile fire in the area.
Five men from F Troop, 8th Cavalry, died in the two aircraft: